How To Report a Drunk Driver

You Just Might Help Save Someone's Life

Keys and a Whisky Glass
Report Impaired Drivers to Save Lives. © Getty Images

Drunk drivers kill thousands of innocent people every year. Reporting them to the police might just save someone's life.

When you report someone who is driving impaired, try to provide the law enforcement agency with as much information as possible: the color, make and model of the vehicle and the license plate number.

Don't feel guilty about reporting a drunk driver. If you saw someone pointing a loaded gun at innocent people, you would not hesitate to report it.

There is very little difference between that situation and someone driving while impaired; it is just as dangerous, potentially.

What If the Driver Is a Relative?

Should you report the drunk driver if you know the driver? What if a close relative is about to get behind the wheel while intoxicated?

If you know the driver, the first course of action would be to try to talk them out of driving or try to take their keys away until they sober up.

But, if your relative refuses to cooperate and decides to drive in spite of your efforts, you should report them to the authorities just as you would report a stranger who was endangering the lives of innocent people.

You may face some fallout for reporting a relative's drunken driving, but not reporting it puts their life and the life of others in jeopardy. How would you feel if your relative had a wreck and died? You would no doubt regret not having reported them.

Here's How to Report a Drunk Driver

The quickest way to report a drunk driver is by calling 9-1-1, although in some jurisdictions traffic violations, even aggressive or impaired driving, is not considered an emergency.

In such cases, you should call the non-emergency number for local law enforcement. You can usually call 4-1-1 to get the correct number to call.

If you wish to wish to report a drunk driver anonymously, many areas have 'Crime Stoppers' or similar programs that will allow you to do so.

If you are driving and witness someone driving impaired, you can use your cellphone to report the driver.

Many highway patrol divisions have their numbers posted along the highway. But, not all states have quick-dial numbers for law enforcement.

Highway Patrol Quick-Dial Numbers

Here are the quick-dial numbers for each state in the U.S.:

Alabama: Cellphone-only: *HP (star 47)

Alaska: 911

Arizona: 911

Arkansas: 911 or Cellphone-only: *55 (star 55)

California: 911

Colorado: 911 or Cellphone-only: *CSP (star 277) or *DUI (star 384)

Connecticut: 911 or (800-443-6817)

Delaware: 911

Florida: 911 or 800-459-6861 or Cellphone-only: *FHP (star 347)

Georgia: 911 or Cellphone-only: *GSP (star 477)

Hawaii: 911

Idaho: 911 or 800-233-1212 or Cellphone-only: *ISP (star 477)

Illinois: 911 or Cellphone-only: *999 (star 999)

Indiana: 911

Iowa: 911 or 800-555-HELP (800-555-4357) Kansas: 911 (Statewide) or Cellphone-only: *HP (star 47 for Salina, KS; *KTA (*482) —Kansas Turnpike and for Wichita, KS

Kentucky: 911 or 800-222-5555

Louisiana: 911 or Cellphone-only: *LHP (star 547); Lake Ponchartrain Causeway: *27 (star 27 — cellphone-only) or 504-893-6250

Maine: 911 or Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77)

Maryland: 911 or Cellphone-only: #SP (pound 77)

Massachusetts: Cellphones: *MSP (star 677) - in the 413 area code; *SP (star 77) — outside the 413 area code

Michigan: 911

Minnesota: 911

Mississippi: Cellphone only: *HP (star 47)

Missouri: Cellphone-only: *55 (star 55) or 800-525-5555

Montana: 911 (emergency only) or 800-525-5555 (non-emergency)

Nebraska: 911 or 800-525-5555 or Cellphone-only: *55 (star 55)

Nevada: 911 or Cellphone-only: *NHP (star 647)

New Hampshire: 911 or 800-622-2394 or Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77)

New Jersey: 911 or Cellphone-only: #77 (pound 77 — to report aggressive driving)

New Mexico: 911 or 505-827-9301

New York: 911

North Carolina: Cellphone only: *HP (star 47) or 800-662-7956

North Dakota: 911

Ohio: 911 or 800-525-5555 (OHP) or 800-877-7PATROL (to report non-emergency safety concerns) or 800-GRAB-DUI (to report erratic driving)

Oklahoma: Cellphone-only *55 (star 55)

Oregon: 911

Pennsylvania: 911 or Cellphone-only: *11 (star 11) — on turnpikes

Rhode Island: 911 or Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77) or 401-444-1069

South Carolina: Cellphone only: *HP (star 47)

South Dakota: 911

Tennessee: Cellphone-only: *THP (star 847) or 615-741-2060

Texas: 911 or 800-525-5555 or Cellphone-only: *DPS (star 377)

Utah: 911 or Cellphone-only: *11 (star 11)

Vermont: 911 or DWI Hotline: 800-GETADWI and *DWI (star 394 — cellphone-only)

Virginia: 911 or Cellphone-only: #SP (pound 77)

U.S. Virgin Islands: 911

Washington: 911

West Virginia: Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77)

Wisconsin: 911

Wyoming: Cellphone only: #HELP (pound 4357) or 800-442-9090

In using your cellphone to report drunk driving, be sure you adhere to the local laws regarding driving and cellphone use.


University of Oklahoma. "Cellphone Emergency Assistance." OU Police Department March 2007

Continue Reading